Generation Inspiration with LV - David Bailey

Recently insurers LV got in touch to see if I'd like to share which person in the fifty plus age category inspired me. The person could be a someone I know or someone famous. I recently had to write an essay on someone who both interests and inspires me and I was planning on sharing it on my other blog The Girl and The Camera but it seems quite fitting for the LV competition and for this blog too. The prize for the winner of the comp is dinner at Nobu London and you can take part too, details at the end of the post!

I'm deeply inspired by......................


Self Portrait by David Bailey

Many photographers can be hailed as influential, but few can be said to have had careers with the longevity of David Bailey’s.  Bailey is not just a successful fashion photographer for publications such as Vogue, he is perhaps the most iconic, notorious and diverse commercial photographer of all time.  He has photographed many key figures of popular culture over several decades, from rock legends to models and actors, as well as crossing media to direct television commercials and documentaries. 

Popular opinion has it that Bailey, along with fellow photographer Terence Donovan, was responsible for actually creating London’s swinging sixties scene, by capturing the chic fashionistas of the time and creating an “aspiration” for everyday people to want to be part of that world.  Bailey himself found that by mixing in this world his own status was elevated and that he, along with Donovan, became one of the first celebrity photographers. 

Photography by David Bailey
Bailey continued the sixties creating bold black and white images of high-profile personalities, including Michael Caine, Mick Jagger and Jean Shrimpton. Publishing “David Bailey’s Box of Pin-ups” in 1965, Bailey presented a series of portraits that included tightly cropped, high contrast images, with few (if any) props and a bare background. 

The sixties reinvented the idea of “celebrity” and Bailey photographed many of the most iconic and exciting personalities of day.  The images in the Pin-ups collection, and their style, continue to be used and recreated, with many of Bailey’s images from this collection currently found on fashion items today.  

Never afraid of new technology, Bailey began shooting with a 35mm single lens reflex camera in 1962 on a shoot for British Vogue in New York: “Young Idea Goes West”.  Bailey shared the thought process behind this change of camera choice when he recollected: 

“Not only did I have no assistant, it was so cold that the cameras stuck to your fingers”  

Deciding against taking a weighty medium format camera and a tripod, he opted to shoot with a hand-held 35mm SLR instead.  This allowed Bailey the ability to move freely, without the restrictions of a tripod, and produce a series of images that were refreshingly different for a glossy aspirational magazine like Vogue.  Prior to Bailey’s innovation, high-end publications would typically illustrate fashion using models in rigid, posed shots.  By combining the genres of fashion and street photography, Bailey captured something fresh and exciting. 

Photography by David Bailey
In 2013, Bailey and fellow photographer Bruce Weber were commissioned by Nokia to produce an exhibition of images using the Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone. Taken during a day in New York’s Harlem with the aim of capturing “an intimate human in a distant world”,  Bailey, at the age of 74, demonstrated once again his diversity as a photographer and willingness to embrace new ways of working.  Above all, Bailey showed that he remains as active, commercial and influential as ever and that to me, is incredibly inspiring.

If you'd like to enter then click here for details (the closing date has been extended to 12/04/14)


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